A newfound species of spider dons a dramatic white-and-red pattern on its back that evokes the smirk draped by Batman‘s age-old foe, the Joker.
The likeness is so unearthly that the researchers who termed the arachnid after Joaquin Phoenix, who characterized the haunted, smiling scoundrel in the 2019 motion picture, “Joker.” Interestingly, the flamboyant spider is part of a genus that was christened for the late rock legend Lou Reed, who conspicuously sported black and seldom smiled. Scientists while in Iran unearthed Loureedia phoenixi; they reported in a new study the Loureedia spider is the first to be ascertained outside the Mediterranean region. The genus, initially delineated in 2018, consists now of four species.
“These spiders spend most of their lives in their subterranean nests,” explained Alireza Zamani, a doctoral candidate and arachnologist in the Biodiversity Unit at the University of Turku in Finland and lead study author. “Males leave their burrows to hunt for females, usually from late October to mid-November, and spiderlings come to the surface when they leave their mother’s nest. Ideally, if you have enough time and patience, it would be interesting to track a wandering male. He should know how to find the female better than anyone else.
“This way, you would also have the chance of observing and photographing the actual mating behavior, which has not been documented for any Loureedia species yet.” Thus far, scientists have amassed and hailed just male Joker spiders. However, the search will persist for the evasive females, focusing on spots where males have been discovered. Uncovering Loureedia spiders is difficult because the arachnids are involved aboveground for merely a three-week period annually.
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